ele·​gi·​ac | \ ˌe-lə-ˈjī-ək How to pronounce elegiac (audio) , -ˌak also i-ˈlē-jē-ˌak \
variants: or less commonly elegiacal \ ˌe-​lə-​ˈjī-​ə-​kəl How to pronounce elegiac (audio) \

Definition of elegiac

1a : of, relating to, or consisting of two dactylic hexameter lines the second of which lacks the arsis in the third and sixth feet
b(1) : written in or consisting of elegiac couplets
(2) : noted for having written poetry in such couplets
c : of or relating to the period in Greece about the seventh century b.c. when poetry written in such couplets flourished
2 : of, relating to, or comprising elegy or an elegy especially : expressing sorrow often for something now past an elegiac lament for departed youth

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Other Words from elegiac

elegiac noun
elegiacally \ ˌe-​lə-​ˈjī-​ə-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce elegiac (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?

Elegiac was borrowed into English in the 16th century from the Late Latin elagiacus, which in turn derives from the Greek elegeiakos. "Elegeiakos" traces back to the Greek word for "elegiac couplet" or "elegy," which was "elegeion." It is no surprise, then, that the earliest meaning of "elegiac" referred to such poetic couplets. These days, of course, the word is also used to describe anything sorrowful or nostalgic. As you may have guessed, another descendant of "elegeion" in English is "elegy," which in its oldest sense refers to a poem in elegiac couplets, and now can equally refer to a somewhat broader range of laments for something or someone that is now lost.

Examples of elegiac in a Sentence

the sight of an old ruined church or castle can be a pleasantly elegiac experience
Recent Examples on the Web Hoffs and Martin intertwined their voices, stripping the sweet lament to a gorgeously elegiac place. Alex Suskind, EW.com, "Grammys Salute to Prince," 22 Apr. 2020 The scale of Alan Yang’s heartfelt debut feature is human, its tone elegiac. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘Tigertail’ Review: Lost Chances, Found Feelings," 10 Apr. 2020 These elegiac images, and the accompanying stories and videos, show us what silence looks like. Washington Post, "Abandoned streets," 24 Mar. 2020 Vitalina Varela’ is socially conscious, but dreamlike, elegiac. Mark Olsenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Indie Focus: A rights revolution at ‘Crip Camp’," 27 Mar. 2020 The language is more elegiac, almost mystical, though as precise as ever. Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic, "Hilary Mantel Takes Thomas Cromwell Down," 5 Apr. 2020 Sciolino reaches the right elegiac note in her afterword. Debra Bruno, Washington Post, "An American writer, seduced by the Seine," 6 Dec. 2019 Now, four years later, Joe Biden's bid for the White House has taken on almost an elegiac air. Susan Page, USA TODAY, "Analysis: Joe Biden insists he still has a path to the nomination. Others have trouble seeing it.," 12 Feb. 2020 Norman F–king Rockwell was beautiful, elegiac and witty, the culmination of Del Rey’s many years exploring her sad-Americana style. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Who Will Win—and Who Should—at the 2020 Grammys," 22 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'elegiac.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of elegiac

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for elegiac

Late Latin elegiacus, from Greek elegeiakos, from elegeion

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Time Traveler for elegiac

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The first known use of elegiac was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Elegiac.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/elegiac. Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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